From a new book, a look at the epidemic hijacking of airplanes in the ’60s and ’70s, with emphasis on those starry-eyed people who sought to go to Cuba – where they found themselves despised.
Posts Tagged ‘history’
I rather like this 2011 commencement address by Robert Blackstock. A taste:
There it is. A start. We want you to think well and often. The point bears mention, of course, because the difficulties we face as a nation, and the difficulties which you will face in college this fall, were caused in no small part by successive generations of leaders who did not think well. It’s not so much that they lack acuity or native intelligence. Rather, they have lost track of which ideas bore good fruit and which ill.
Having marched up the long and arduous road from 1776 to unprecedented freedom and prosperity, we as a nation have forgotten the ideas on which this freedom and this prosperity were first built. The danger is real and it is present. We stand to lose the blessings of liberty, if we do not reclaim those principles and habits without which those blessings cannot stand. This is an urgent concern for you, because the national conversation about ideas is especially pointed and especially off-track in our colleges and universities.
… to a foreign friend, Giovanni Fabbroni, updating him on the war, on scientific experiments, and bemoaning the state of music in America:
SIR, — Your letter of Sep. 15. 1777 from Paris comes safe to hand. We have not however had the pleasure of seeing Mr. De Cenis, the bearer of it in this country, as he joined the army in Pennsylvania as soon as he arrived. I should have taken particular pleasure in serving him on your recommendation. From the kind anxiety expressed in your letter as well as from other sources of information we discover that our enemies have filled Europe with Thrasonic accounts of victories they had never won and conquests they were fated never to make. While these accounts alarmed our friends in Europe they afforded us diversion. We have long been out of all fear for the event of the war. I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence. This is the best history of the war which can be brought within the compass of a letter. I believe the account to be near the truth, tho’ it is difficult to get at the numbers lost by an enemy with absolute precision. Many of the articles have been communicated to us from England as taken from the official returns made by their General. I wish it were in my power to send you as just an account of our loss. But this cannot be done without an application to the war office which being in another county is at this time out of my reach. I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy. If there could have been a doubt before as to the event of the war it is now totally removed by the interposition of France, & the generous alliance she has entered into with us. Tho’ much of my time is employed in the councils of America I have yet a little leisure to indulge my fondness for philosophical studies. I could wish to correspond with you on subjects of that kind. It might not be unacceptable to you to be informed for instance of the true power of our climate as discoverable from the thermometer, from the force & direction of the winds, the quantity of rain, the plants which grow without shelter in winter &c. On the other hand we should be much pleased with contemporary observations on the same particulars in your country, which will give us a comparative view of the two climates. Farenheit’s thermometer is the only one in use with us, I make my daily observations as early as possible in the morning & again about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, these generally showing the maxima of cold & heat in the course of 24 hours. I wish I could gratify your Botanical taste; but I am acquainted with nothing more than the first principles of that science; yet myself & my friends may furnish you with any Botanical subjects which this country affords, and are not to be had with you; and I shall take pleasure in procuring them when pointed out by you. The greatest difficulty will be the means of conveyance during the continuance of the war.
If there is a gratification which I envy any people in this world, it is to your country its music. This is the favorite passion of my soul, & fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism. From the line of life in which we conjecture you to be, I have for some time lost the hope of seeing you here. Should the event prove so, I shall ask your assistance in procuring a substitute, who may be a proficient in singing, & on the Harpsichord. I should be contented to receive such an one two or three years hence, when it is hoped he may come more safely and find here a greater plenty of those useful things which commerce alone can furnish. The bounds of an American fortune will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of musicians, yet I have thought that a passion for music might be reconciled with that economy which we are obliged to observe. I retain for instance among my domestic servants a gardener (Ortolans), a weaver (Tessitore di lino e lin), a cabinet maker (Stipeltaio) and a stone cutter (Scalpellino laborante in piano) to which I would add a vigneron. In a country where like yours music is cultivated and practised by every class of men I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could perform on the French horn, clarinet or hautboy & bassoon, so that one might have a band of two French horns, two clarinets, & hautboys & a bassoon, without enlarging their domestic expenses. A certainty of employment for a half dozen years, and at the end of that time to find them if they choose a conveyance to their own country might induce them to come here on reasonable wages. Without meaning to give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for you in [your] ordinary intercourse with your people, to find out such men disposed to come to America. Sobriety and good nature would be desirable parts of their characters. If you think such a plan practicable, and will be so kind as to inform me what will be necessary to be done on my part I will take care that it shall be done. The necessary expenses, when informed of them, I can remit before they are wanting, to any port in France, with which country alone we have safe correspondence. I am Sir with much esteem your humble servant.
Find this letter and other American documents at The Avalon Project.
You may have heard by now about the college class in Florida where students were told to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then put the paper on the floor and stomp on it? Such exercises have been around for a while, sad to say, and not just in classrooms. Let Anthony Sacramone give you a brief look at how it played out in Japan for a while. (New Addition to Core Curriculum: Stomp on the Name of Jesus, Intercollegiate Review, March 26, 2013.)
hat tip: Lars Walker, on Facebook
1. Tell me I’m not the only person chasing preschoolers around who is seriously considering locking up the soap dispensers and not letting any girl under the age of six have access without a grown-up in attendance. Two girls I babysit love to wash dishes, windows, doors, toys, faces, hands, mirrors, what have you, and have a tendency to use up all the dish soap and hand soap they can get their hands on, most of it for uses other than keeping germs at bay. I don’t want to discourage their domestic streak, and I certainly want them to keep their hands clean, but they’re in danger of busting the budget, and of making it impossible to keep soap in stock for people who want to wash hands. On the upside, if I need a breather, all I need to do is let them have a sink and some soap, and they will usually wash away for unspeakable lengths of time, happy as larks.
2. I’m currently reading Amazing Grace on my Kindle. It’s currently $2.99. It’s a biography of William Wilberforce. If you don’t know who that is, you might want to remedy that shortcoming in your education.
3. We’ve been having winter trading off with pseudo-spring lately, sometimes back and forth in the same day. That’s usual for February around here: we get a taste of spring, and then get hammered with snow, ice, and frost. I like to think it builds character. Or, at least, that it could build character.
4. I’ve been busy for weeks now helping an older gentlemen get his aviation memoirs ready to publish. We’re getting close. He’s flown back country mountains for more than 50 years, much of it as a charter pilot, and I’m enjoying working on the book, even though I’m not a flyer, or even interested in flying. I’m enjoying the adventures, and also the personality of the man. When one passenger refused to behave, the author just landed at a handy airport, hauled the man off the plane, and took off again without him. I can appreciate that sort of pilot. Oh, my, yes. The book’s title is Adventures of an Idaho Mountain Pilot. Coming soon to a bookseller near you.
5. One of my favorite old ladies died this week. I’d see her nearly every week, at a Bible study I help with at the assisted living facility where she lived. She was already frail and wheelchair bound, and often a bit unsure what was going on, when I met her, but she was unfailingly gracious and courteous, and concerned for others above herself. She’s been a mighty inspiration to me. Last week, she was too sick to come to the study, mostly from some small strokes she’d had, so we popped by her room to say hello and wish her a happy 99th birthday before we left. As usual, she was sweet and kind and sent us out the door with a God Bless You, even though she was struggling from damage from the strokes. Amazing.
6. Speaking of Bible study, have you ever noticed what’s in the Revelation 21 list of who will be kept out of heaven? “…And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death…”
I don’t know why, but when I read that for this week’s study, cowardly jumped out at me like I hadn’t seen it before. I don’t know why it surprised me. After all, how many times does God command us ‘Do not be afraid’? But, still, it jumped right off the page at me.
7. I finally slogged my way through G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. The man could make me half crazy, tossing in some of the best quotable quotes in the English language, and some of the most brilliant observations in print, side by jumble with passages I find questionable, or even counterproductive. To his credit, the man almost always forces me to think, and usually sends me off on a round of study. But he exasperates me, too. Should I dive for cover now – prudently, not cowardly, of course? (This neighborhood of Bloggityville, if you don’t know, is thick with nearly rabid Chesterton fans. It just is.) As a conversion story, it’s a great read. As a convincing presentation of orthodoxy, I find too much fairy land in it. If it gets you headed toward Christianity, all well and good. God works in mysterious ways. But, all the same, I’m glad I didn’t read it until after my own conversion.
Speaking of conversion stories, why not pop over to Conversion Diary, host blog for 7 Quick Takes Friday?
Anthony Esolen has a series of posts over at Front Porch Republic addressing Life Under Compulsion. I’ve only scanned a couple of them (the latest, and the first), but I suspect they’re all worth a read (his posts generally are good food for thought), and so…
Life Under Compulsion uses the life and observations of author Sigrid Undset as a starting point.
I don’t recall hearing of either of these men before, but according to these recent reports, they openly took on the Soviets, to the good cheer of their fellow-afflicted.
December 30th is Vladimir Bukovsky’s seventieth birthday. He is the only Russian barred by special law from running for president, a tribute to his immense popularity and force of character. Among the great generation of democratic dissidents–the generation that punctured the monstrous Soviet bubble and produced the celebrated sucking sound that ended the Soviet Empire and gutted the world Communist movement–Bukovsky is arguably the most important.
Then there was this from Yahoo News:
WARSAW (Reuters) - Retired Polish Archbishop Ignacy Tokarczuk, who built churches in secret in defiance of the communist authorities, becoming a folk hero for many, has died at the age of 94, PAP news agency said on Saturday.
One of the Soviet bloc’s more colorful anti-communist clerics, Tokarczuk clandestinely built hundreds of churches under the noses of the officially atheist government in the 1960s and 1970s.
Follow the links to the posts for more.
1. Amazon had The Miracle of the White Stallions DVD on sale for $8.49, so I snagged a copy. The last time I looked, the sale price was still in effect, but you had to wait for restocking to get one. It’s as much about outwitting Nazis, and about a formerly free people chafing under oppression, as it is about the famous horses. It’s from 1963. Well worth a watch. It’s rated G, but I’d suggest parents watch it first, so they’re ready if a kid picks up on the talk of concentration camps and other war related stuff.
2. While I was at it, I ordered Justin Morgan Had A Horse, also from Disney’s good old days. It’s not on sale, sorry. But it is a fun, cheerful, film. Like The Miracle of the White Stallions, it’s based on a true story, in this case, the founding of the first American horse breed. I suspect this one has a wee bit more artistic license in it than the other one, but, then, it would probably have to. The other film was based on events in living memory, which were documented by the people involved. Both films were made before the PC crowd started cramping storylines. Good stories, both.
3. Once upon a few years ago, I noticed that many old cookbooks had ‘pancake’ recipes that were fancy ways of using leftovers. They mixed just all sorts of stuff in batter, and cooked away, sometimes as side dishes, sometimes as main dishes. Veggies, meat, fruit, whatever; sometimes spicy, sometimes bland. Since then, I’ve had great fun making up my own recipes. Perhaps recipes is the wrong word for those times I just use what’s on hand. A few weeks back, I had some cooked pumpkin I needed to use up, but didn’t feel like making a pie. So I put in all the ingredients except eggs for pumpkin pie filling – just as if I was making a pie – and mixed that with two batches of pancake batter (which provided all the eggs I figured I needed). Then I adjusted with more flour and water for better consistency, and a little extra oil so it wouldn’t stick, and wound up with pumpkin pie pancakes. They were pretty good, and kept well in the freezer. As to that last point, that pancakes freeze well is one of the things I like about them. Very handy, that.
4. I’m rereading The Pilgrim’s Progress, both parts. If you only read about Christian’s pilgrimage, you’ll have a lively read, but do try and get your hands on the second part, which follows the pilgrimage of his wife and children. I’m not sure but that it might be impossible to understand early American history if you haven’t read these books. Seriously. Bunyan and other nonconformist writers both reflect the age, and helped shape it.
5. I’m starting to feel bad that I didn’t send out physical Christmas cards this year. I’ve received a few, and it’s such a treat. Then I look at the price tag on the back, and factor in postage, and figure I have a good excuse. But, still, it’s such a treat to get them. Maybe next year…
6. Like quite a few other women in this part of the country, I don’t even own a pair of pants anymore. This would be neither here nor there, except that this time of year I hear silly objections about dresses being too cold to wear in winter. Obviously not, since women have been doing it for thousands of years. If you’re wearing a dress long enough to be modest, that helps. Layers help even more. For slips, it’s perfectly all right to make your own from flannel or something else sensible, or to wear a t-shirt dress as a slip. Yes, even with sleeves; there’s no reason an underdress can’t have sleeves. And, uhm, ladies, long underwear can be worn under dresses. Really. For that matter, dresses of a proper weight and sensible cut can be warmer than pants, just like mittens can be warmer than gloves.
7. Merry Christmas. (I’m a Christian. I can say that.)
(7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Conversion Diary. Why not pop on over and check out some other blogs?)